Park police with guns terrify black teens
MINNEAPOLIS – Three black teenagers say they feared for their lives when a Minneapolis Park Police officer pulled a gun on them while responding to a bogus 911 report that they were armed.
The July 10 incident at Minnehaha Park drew widespread attention after a bystander recorded part of it and posted a video to Facebook that’s been viewed over 2.8 million times.
The officers were responding to a female 911 caller who falsely reported that four teens were following her boyfriend and wielding knives and sticks. Park police released the four after finding they were unarmed and hearing witness accounts that contradicted the caller’s story. The department has since said the call was “misleading” and apologized to the boys.
At a news conference Monday called by the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, 14-year-old Aden Aden said he and his friends were just trying to have fun when a white kid confronted them. Witnesses have corroborated that account.
“When I was at the park, I was just trying to have a good day with my friends,” Aden said. “And this white kid came up to us saying racial slurs towards us, and when the cops came, they just pulled guns to our faces. And I felt like I was discriminated (against) and I felt like it was not supposed to happen, and I hope it never happens to anyone again.”
Fourteen-year-old Suhaib Ahmed said the officers frightened them. “I was scared he was going to shoot me.”
Police said in a news release last week that one of the officers “unholstered his firearm and pointed it in the general direction of the four suspects.”
Three of the boys attended the news conference. A fourth did not attend because of a family emergency.
The woman shooting the video says she saw a boy about 17 years old confront the younger boys and threaten them with a knife. She points out that one of the black teens is being bitten by mosquitoes and that the officer won’t allow him to put his shirt back on. Two of the boys can be seen in the video with their hands cuffed behind their backs as they are ushered into the back of a patrol car.
The families of the boys, who are Somali-American, are considering legal action, said Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota CAIR chapter, who called the 911 call a hate crime. He did not describe the nature of the proposed legal action.
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, which announced it will form a civilian advisory review council amid the public outcry, said Monday that the incident remained under investigation and pointed out that making a false 911 call is a crime. A board spokeswoman did not immediately return a call Wednesday seeking an update on the investigation.
Park Police Chief Jason Ohotto said last week that his department hadn’t identified the caller or her boyfriend, and no arrests have been announced.